The Larry Combest Community Health and Wellness Center Mosaic

texas design


I teamed up with my friend David Fichter to create this four panel mosaic for the Texas Tech University Nursing School in Lubbock, Texas. We were selected as the winners of a national Request for Qualifications Proposal process, under the Percent for Art Program for the University. This was a challenging project that is our largest mosaic yet. Want to see how

it’s done?

texas design copy

We started with this design drawing, which we showed to the review team in Texas. The Center is called The Larry Combest Community Health and Wellness Center. Our design has four distinct themes, one per panel.

Combest Mosaic Design (part 1)

The first panel is our tribute to the nurses. We’ve used a ‘Kaleidoscope Quilt’ for the compositional structure. This creates a strong centerpiece and smaller scenes around. Here you see healthy foods, diabetes, maternity and geriatric care. The two women in the upper left at the founders.

Combest Mosaic Design (part 1)



The second panel shows a Mexican dancer in a bright yellow costume. The neighborhood is primarily Hispanic, so we wanted to create a striking display of proud local traditions.

Combest Mosaic Design (part 3)



The third panel is a symbol of the hands of the community supporting the next generation. We also have an intergenerational musical duo playing guitars.



Combest Mosaic Design (part 4)


The final panel celebrates the elementary school that is next to the health center. We have a teacher and student working together in the center, then school activities circling.




This is the ‘big baby’s’ face, on our work table in my Waltham studio. David does most of these large portraits, and is truly a master in the way he captures the expression and soul of the person. You can see all the shades of glass tile that we work with on the edge.


Here’s the dancer panel complete in the studio. If you look closely you can see that the surface of the glass is covered with adhesive film. This is the way we join the tiles, then we cut the panel into about 8 sections, then stack these sections onto cardboard for travel.



David and I drove cross country in David’s van, the back filled with 3 months of our mosaic work. We met up with his family in his home town of Cincinnati. We had some classic burgers at the Frish’s. HIs brother Seth is with us here.




When we arrived, the walls had not been smoothed. We worked with the local crew to fill all the block joints with mortar. It was a lot of work!







IMG_0139David is installing the dancer panel onto the wall in Lubbock. We do one section at a time, working from the bottom up, pushing the glass sections into a 3/16″ tooled setting bed of white glass tile thin set mortar, then hammering them with a rubber mallet. This works beautifully!


The arms for the big baby panel have been installed – but not the head!


David is pulling the adhesive film off the surface of the tile. Yes, I do my share of the work, but David never takes pictures while we’re working, so you only see him working, as these are my photos.


This is the sunset light at the end of our third day of installation – with my shadow.


Fourth day – success! All four panels are installed!




I love the dancer panel – so bright and beautiful! We are proud of this project!

2 thoughts on “The Larry Combest Community Health and Wellness Center Mosaic

  1. Hi I absolutely love the work that you do with the community and I aspire to this some day!! Fantastic website. I just started reading your blog and happened to notice that there is a mismatch of your pic to the description ( missing Mexican dancer).

    HAve you ever worked in Canada? One day I’d really love to join in the the process with you to get hands on learning. Would this be possible? Thanks so much for sharing your work. It is truly inspiring!

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